Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Bank Run

I had an hour and fifteen minute break yesterday, and I REALLY needed to transfer money back to the States. I thought it would probably be about a 45 minute process, at most, so I went ahead and did it. Keep in mind, I've never done this before, and I was going on the advice that "it's really not a big deal and won't take long." I figured my 45 minutes left enough time for me to stop somewhere and get something to drink afterwards.

First of all, in order to do business at the bank, I needed my passport, which the school office had. It took about 10 minutes for the office lady to find it, so I was down to just over an hour for my break. I caught a taxi in front of the school, carefully noting that I only had 70 Baht with me (about $2). The taxi ride should have been about 50 Baht... but I didn't know exactly where I was going.

So, we got lost, and every time I tried to give directions to the taxi driver, Uzbek words came out of my mouth--which is not very helpful in Thailand. Though I'm thankful that I can remember so much Uzbek, it's really frustrating that it seems to be the only foreign language my brain has room for these days.

The taxi meter climbs up to 83 Baht, and he pulls over to ask someone where the closest Bangkok Bank is. He then drives me to it. Unfortunately, it's not THE branch where you can transfer money. This is Thailand after all, and you can't just go anywhere to transfer money. So, I get on my cell phone and call someone who tells me how to get there. Eventually, the taxi driver and I finally understand each other, and he gets me to the right place.

Only now, the taxi meter is at 112 Baht, and I only have 60. It's also 38 minutes into my hour and fifteen minute break. I ask the taxi driver to wait. Because I can just get more money while I'm inside and use that to pay him after he takes me back to the school.

I walk in the door to what I think is the bank, but it's only the Parking garage. You have to go up the stairs to the actual bank. Once inside the bank, a helpful woman approaches me and asks if she can help me. I say, "I need to transfer money to America." Everyone in a 10 foot radius starts laughing. I'm still breathing heavy from the stairs. Anyway, she points me to where I need to go.

The nice lady behind the specific counter helps me immediately and hands me the 4 forms that I have to fill out in order to transfer the money. Everything needs to be translated, but thankfully, I had all the necessary information with me. LOTS of information. So, after 20 minutes of sitting with the nice lady at the counter, my money has been transferred to America (I think).

I go back down to the taxi, but I had forgotten to get more money to pay him. So, I go back upstairs and head over to the ATM machines--only they are not ATM machines, they are "checkbook update" machines and "express deposit" machines. The ATM machines are downstairs. Of course they are.

I go back downstairs, to the ATM (outside of the parking garage door), get some money and climb back into the taxi. The driver didn't even ask me where I needed to go. Thankfully, he just assumed that he could drop off the poor foreign girl back where he picked her up. This was where I needed to be, only for some reason, he asked me WHICH DIRECTION to go: "U-turn or right turn?" he asked. "Leo- qua" I say, which means, "turn right." Whatever that means. I don't know which way is better.

Fifteen minutes later, I start thinking, oh dear, maybe U-turn would have been faster. I have 5 minutes to get back to school and walk back to where my next class is. I start thinking about calling the office and having someone cover my class because I'm lost, but that would be really embarrassing. I start looking for my cell phone anyway in my purse. Took a minute, but when I looked up after finding my phone, I recognized where we were. Not too far from the school.

The driver drops me off at the school, I pay him the 178 Baht with my new crisp bills, and I dash off to teach just in time.

So much for my quick bank run.


  1. Reminds of something a co-worker said yesterday that made me laugh: "Murphy is working against us today."

    Ah... well next time you're anywhere near NC, I'll buy you whatever you want at Starbucks to make up for it!

    (and you can even use your Uzbek)

  2. Seriously Tricia, it totally stresses me out to read this and i live here and deal with this every day! Yay for getting everything done in the exact time you needed (boo for the serious taxi meter time - although understandable since you had him wait). Way to go in mastering one more thing in this great country!

  3. Well, at least now you know how to get to that bank..maybe. :) And you'll be better prepared for it next time you need to transfer money back over here. Although, it might be easier to get a money order and mail it. :) I love you guys and miss you tons!!